Tricky Business

Breaking down the Halloween candy collecting ritual with a certified, cup-carrying chaperone.

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  • Written by
    Emily DeRenzis


It’s dark. It’s chaotic. You are surrounded by sugar-crazed maniacs and parents clutching glossy Solo cups. Every so often a familiar face appears, and the small talk must be UNBEARABLE to those sugar-crazed maniacs. Because, after all, there are countless tricked-out houses—some of them decorated by what must be professional set designers—all waiting to unload saccharine stashes to eager, small hands and sweet-toothed parents, coyly eyeing the good stuff.

Young eyes grow big at the mounting pile of lollipops, licorice and peanut butter cups, and—feeling overwhelmed by darkened chaos—you look at the time and realize it’s only been a paltry 45 minutes since the first “trick or treat” left their lips. The urge to softly encourage little ones to start making their way home is overwhelming; after all, they have more candy than they will ever possibly consume. Also … that glossy Solo cup is feeling a tad light.

And it’s not just home and then to bed. No, no, no. There will be the ritual dumping of candy and trading and fighting over who gets what, followed by their insistance to sit on the  porch and pass out treats to teenagers still out and about. (Some of them look disconcertedly old.) The reality is that it’s almost as much fun to pass out the candy as it is to collect the candy. Plus, the prospect of a quiet house after a big night is a bit sad. It can’t be over already!

But somewhere along the path of darkened chaos it is the children who start bumping into familiar faces. Friends and neighbors alike, they run off in packs—promising to stay together, to be right back. And they do. A glossy Solo cup is suddenly feeling a bit heavier, thanks to a friendly neighbor with a bottle to share and a wall to lean against.

As your eyes dart back and forth keeping tabs on your kids, the time doesn’t seem to matter so much anymore … for the magic of childhood is wildly in play right before your very eyes. Will it be this Halloween they remember so poignantly as they grow older? Maybe it will be this moment, this very one, that they look back on and smile about in some 20, 30, maybe even 50 years.

It certainly isn’t going to be the candy they remember the most fondly. It will be this. It will be an autumn night with friends swirling all around them, feeling carefree and happy.

It will be the rebellious fun of staying up way too late as parents say, “Sure, we can stay out later. Grab a friend. Let’s walk together. After all … look at all these lit up houses just waiting to see your costume. We’ve still got a few trick or treats left in us.” Hope they’re giving out the good stuff.

Emily DeRenzis is the creative talent behind the blog Gelato Mama.